Rabies is an acute infection of the central nervous system caused by the rabies virus. It affects mammals like dogs, cats, foxes, bats and humans.
Mode of transmission
When humans are bitten or scratched, or when their broken skin is licked by an infected animal, the virus in the saliva of the infected animal enters the human body through the wound and travels through nerves to the brain, leading to encephalitis. Rarely, rabies may also be transmitted by inhalation of virus-containing aerosol or via transplantation of an infected organ.
The incubation period is usually 2 to 3 months, but may vary from less than 1 week to over 1 year.
The initial presentation of rabies may be nonspecific and include flu-like symptoms such as malaise, fever or headache, which may last for days. There may be numbness and tingling sensation around the wound. After a few days, anxiety, confusion, spasm of swallowing muscles, paralysis, coma and death will occur.
Once symptoms of rabies appear, the disease is nearly always fatal, and treatment is supportive.